One of the few clouds on the political horizon is the growing schism in the Republican Party between the Tea Party and Chamber of Commerce “moderates.” It will play out in 2014 in Republican primaries all over the country. The Tea Party will back insurgent candidates, the Chamber pragmatists. The same thing happened in 2012, with mixed results. The Tea Party gave us stars like Cruz and Lee, and duds like Angle in Nevada and Akin in Missouri.
I’m with the Tea Party, up to a point. The Buckley Rule says you nominate the most conservative candidate who can win. The Tea Party doesn’t seem to pay much attention to the “can win” part. Hopefully some of these folks will have learned their lesson from the last election, when we lost seats we should have won. A good test case will be Alaska, where Joe Miller is trying to be the Tea Party candidate for Senate. He’s trying to repeat his victory over incumbent moderate Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the 2012 primary. After he got the nomination he proceeded to lose in the general to her write-in campaign, which is virtually unheard of. He made some truly goofball mistakes, and carried some baggage that didn’t come out in the primary.
Since I spent 27 years up there, most of it in Republican politics, I have a pretty good feel for Tea Party thinking there. And I don’t have an answer. Some of these folks are so hardcore you can’t even talk to them . Others will listen to reason. But they’ll only listen to those they trust. And they don’t trust too many people.
I got a lot of them to trust me. I earned that trust. Too bad I’m not in Alaska, I could be of help. As best I can tell, Miller’s got a shot at the nomination, and if he gets it he’ll probably lose to Begich. And that could cost us the majority.
Oh, well. I don’t really care that much about the Senate. I care about state legislatures, and, from what I can tell, the Tea Party is an unalloyed good in these contests. The wave I’m expecting wouldn’t b e nearly as big without them
And I’ll trade a state legislature for a U. S. Senator any day.